If you’ve ever attempted a DIY bikini wax at home, you’re probably already aware of how long it can take, how painful it can be, and how annoying the whole process actually is. (And don’t even get us started on trying to get to those unreachable spots when you’re trying to do the whole thing on your own.)
Considering many of us don’t have the option right now to head on over to our beloved wax lady, we must resort to other, potentially more dangerous and painful measures in pursuit of a fuzz-free bikini area. Below, we’ve asked the experts whether doing a DIY bikini wax at home is safe, and if you have no other option, how you can help do it properly without causing (too much) harm.
Is it safe to wax your bikini line yourself?
After consulting multiple experts on this, the consensus seems to be no, waxing your bikini area yourself probably isn’t the best idea, for a few reasons. “I don’t recommend waxing your bikini area at home because there are possible serious side effects that can occur from waxing in general, let alone self-waxing,” says board-certified New York dermatologist and founder of Fifth Avenue Aesthetics℠, Marie V. Hayag, MD. “It is easier and safer to go to a professional to do the procedure.”
Gina Petak, Education Manager at European Wax Center®, agrees, saying she does not recommend waxing at home either. “When you wax at home, you can harm the natural protective barrier of your skin, opening yourself up to increased sensitivity to outside environmental factors,” says Petak. “You’re also increasing the chances of developing ingrown hair.”
On the other hand, Natalie Ismiel, Nad's® Brand Ambassador, believes that a DIY bikini wax is safe to do at home, as long as you’re smart about it. “Always be sure you are using a product that specifically states that it’s suitable for the bikini area, as these formulas are gentler on the skin,” says Ismiel. “Also, be sure to read the precautions and instructions before use.”
What are the risks associated with waxing your bikini area at home?
There can be more risks associated with doing a DIY bikini wax than getting a wax from a trained professional. The first is more of a cosmetic issue. “If you are pulling in the wrong direction of hair growth, you’re causing the hair to break, [which may] develop into ingrown hair,” says Petak. “Breaking the hair also leaves behind a not-so-smooth result.” And, if you break the hair, it could result in pretty instantaneous stubble — defeating the purpose of DIY waxing entirely.
Also, if you aren’t super careful, you could harm the top layers of the dermis, too. According to Petak, a lot of at-home kits feature low-quality wax, which may cause you to wax the same area over and over again in order to remove the hair. “This leads to skin irritation and dryness,” she warns. “Additionally, when heating wax on your own, you open yourself up to the possibility of the wax being too hot and causing burns.”
There can also be significant health risks to waxing — both at home and at the spa. “Molluscum, herpes, and HPV can spread with waxing and traumatizing the skin,” warns Dr. Hayag.
However, Ismiel says that as long as you read the directions and follow them thoroughly, a DIY bikini wax at home can be done safely. “If you are a first timer, you might also be anxious or nervous about the process, which can cause you to tense up and experience discomfort,” she points out. “Be sure to relax and take deep breaths. Once you’ve done your first wax, you’ll find that every wax after that gets easier and less painful.”
If you really need to give yourself a DIY bikini wax at home, how do you do it?
Desperate times call for desperate measures, and while it may not be an ideal experience to be waxing your own lady bits at home, nonetheless Ismiel tells us how to get it done. In particular, she advises using a wax kit in lieu of ready-to-use wax strips. “With wax kits, you have more control over the areas you want to apply wax to,” says Ismiel. “They also help to ensure you are applying the wax thickly and evenly over the area, which is especially necessary for coarse hair.” Though you might be more familiar with soft wax — the kind that is removed with a strip of fabric or paper — she recommends that first-timers seek out hard wax, like Nad’s Charcoal Bead Wax ($17). Hard wax only grabs the hair, not the skin, and is very effective for pulling out short, coarse hairs.
Once you have the supplies you need, there are a few things to avoid before you attempt to wax at home. First off, if you take oral retinoids or are using topical tretinoin, talk to your dermatologist about next steps before diving into your jar of wax; vitamin A could cause you to wax away part of your epidermis as well as the hair (yikes!). Furthermore, it’s important to avoid drinking significant amounts of alcohol or coffee, as they can tighten your pores and make the experience feel more painful, according to Ismiel. Another aspect that could result in pain — your menstrual cycle. “It’s best not to wax during your period, as you will likely be more sensitive and prone to experience discomfort,” recommends Ismiel. Wait until the week after, when you’ll be the least sensitive.
Retinol shouldn't be used by women who are pregnant, considering getting pregnant, or nursing. Please consult with your doctor before use. As always, talk to your doctor before starting or stopping any treatment or medication.
Once you’re ready to start, find a position you are comfortable with that gives you good visibility. (We suggest camping out in a very well-lit bathroom — trust us when we say that it’s easier to clean errant drops of wax off a tile floor than a carpet.) Prepare your skin by ensuring the area is clean, dry, and free of oils and moisturizers. Your hair needs to be a minimum of one- to three-fourths of an inch long; if it looks longer than that, you should trim it. Always work on one small area at a time, starting from the outside and working your way into the more sensitive areas, says Ismiel. If you’re using hard wax, she recommends leaving a small amount of it curled up at the end of the patch, as that will make it easier to remove.
For hard wax, let the wax cool on your skin for about 30 seconds until it is still soft and pliable, but no longer sticky to the touch. Don’t wait too long, though: If you leave the wax on your skin for too long, it will harden and become difficult to remove (which will be after about one minute). Ready for takeoff? “Remove the wax by holding skin taut with one hand, and then lift the end of the wax with the fingers of your free hand,” explains Ismiel. “Grip the wax, and with one quick motion, remove the wax close and parallel to the skin in the opposite direction of hair growth. Do not reuse the wax or re-wax if the skin is red and irritated.”
There is likely an oil or wipe in your at-home waxing kit that helps calm skin and removes any residue — use it. These formulas tend to contain azulene, a naturally-occurring compound found in chamomile, which is incredibly soothing and could help reduce redness and inflammation “You can also use baby oil to remove wax residue, but don’t attempt to use water,” adds Ismiel. If your kit doesn’t have one of these products inside, try Parissa® Azulene Oil ($10). It’s in a unique spray format, so you can apply it with substantially less mess.
Of course, if redness and inflammation last longer than two days, be sure to talk to your doctor.
If you’re wondering whether a Brazilian wax is achievable at home, Ismiel says yes — but only if you have the right kit. “It’s important to look for a product that says ‘Brazilian’ on the packaging, as not all formulas are suitable for this sensitive area,” she says. And, proceed at your own risk: the tissue in this area is extremely delicate, and applying hot wax to it (and ripping it off) is best left to those with experience.
What about aftercare?
If you must self-wax, Dr. Hayag recommends avoiding exercise for 24 hours to minimize irritation, and to apply a cool compress and a non-alcohol-based witch hazel toner, which can soothe skin, she says. “Additionally, you can apply a topical antibiotic and hydrocortisone 1% to the affected areas for several days to [help prevent] infection and calm down redness and irritation.” It also can’t hurt to avoid tight clothing and sex for the subsequent 24 to 48 hours, as friction in the area could aggravate the skin even further. “If you develop burns, severe irritation, blisters, ingrown hairs, or an infection, see a dermatologist right away for care,” says Dr. Hayag. However, if your self-waxing endeavor was successful, the only thing left to do is enjoy your smooth skin and ingenuity!
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